Thursday, July 16, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The City looks to its waterfront for business growth, Greyhound moves around the block and the Daily notices the Google car, some of the highlights of the Wednesday edition of the Daily News.

CITY LOOKS TO THE FUTURE OF WATERFRONT BUSINESS-- The waterfront's lure is apparently calling the city, part of the city's rezoning project is a plan to make the waterfront more attractive for business opportunities, one of which may soon be the long promised redevelopment of the old CN/VIA rail station. The Daily outlines the details on the new focus on the waterfront as its front page headline story (see story below)

Greyhound is changing hotels and loading zones next month, as renovations and expansion plans at the Coast Prince Rupert Hotel, have made for eviction papers for the bus terminal. Greyhound will move to the Highliner Inn, taking up the space previously known as the Winners Circle Lounge for it's Terminal and office operations. Buses will load in the area in front of the Highliner, much like the Airport buses do on a daily basis. The new depot opens up on August 10th.

Like many others around town, the Daily News spotted the Google car mapping the city last week, as we mentioned in the blog on Saturday, Google's ever expanding visual options include street scene visuals of cities across the world, Rupert's chance to smile and show off it's streets took place last week.

The Sports page offered up a review of the Prince Rupert Seamen's efforts at a Rugby tournament in Prince George last weekend.

Front page headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Pages one and five

Ted Sylvester looks over the waterfront and reflects on his decision to establish his business next to the harbour.

Sylvester is the owner of Breakers Pub in Cow Bay, which opened back in 1985, and the choice was a good one.

Prince Rupert was a thriving community of 18,000 people then. Although much may have changed since those heady days, the one thing that has remained constant for Sylvester is the immense value of the waterfront.

"It's one of the main reasons we are still busy," said Sylvester.

Sylvester's pub is one of several commercial enterprises that enjoy the strategic advantage of location on the harbour front. Customers, whose origins can vary during the summer tourist season, can be seen regularly filling his pub's deck on rare sunny Rupert afternoons.

Sylvester can understand why any business would want to be down by the water. He isn't surprised to see that potential buyers are interested in the old CN waterfront station or that the city is looking toward the harbour for potential growth.

"That's our business. That's why we got started here," said Sylvester.

The City of Prince Rupert sees potential opportunity for waterfront growth from the same perspective. It's a matter of getting the rest of Prince Rupert to understand why they are pushing this way.

City planner Zeno Krekic said that he realizes that residents in Prince Rupert are probably not as involved in the city's rezoning project as are the business owners in town. But he hasn't given up trying to involve people around town.

And he understands there is a segment of Prince Rupert's population who wonder why the city should even bother. But the city anticipates a growing population based on port facility growth. The question that will be harder to answer then is where and how the city will grow with it.

"Probably one of the biggest things is that everyone wants to have access to the waterfront and the public realm is probably as is important as the commercial realm," said

Krekic. It's a crucial development question lat that the city could face down the road. Access to waterfront property is popular with merchants and homeowners alike. The 'see-the sea' mentality appears ingrained into the human psyche.

The city hall faces several challenges in the development of its rezoning plan and the new Downtown Urban Guidelines that will accompany it. One one the greatest will in keeping the city's look and feel 'inclusive' rather than 'exclusive' to residents and visitors. Waterfront zoning could be a contentious issue due to high usage by the public.

The space around the old Kiwinitsa station evokes depth and meaning to the public. Residents regularly use the old dusty road that runs parallel with the CN rail tracks from the old CN station to Graham Avenue on the city's west end.

"I imagine that any community wishes to have unimpeded access to the waterfront,' said Krekic. "The whole walkway from the station is wonderful. And it really shows the unique charm of Prince Rupert."

The city has previously rezoned the CN station property located on the waterfront to allow for commercial activity. Krekic said that the purchasers of the property have yet to finalize the deal but that a sale should be expected soon.

Development of the old CN station would be something to keep an eye on. As part of the guidelines, it would also be ideal for the view from Fourth Street to remain unimpeded.

For the $90,000 combined rezoning and downtown guidelines planning project to be successful, Krekic would like to see full public involvement on July 27.

As for Third Avenue, Krekic believes that it is a huge part of the community's future.

"The community respects it and wants it to be respected.-So we have an historical section that everyone is quite attached to," said Krekic.

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